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Opinion: Clinton, Kaine Pro-LGBTQ Because of Faith, Not In Spite of It

Image: Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her runningmate Sen. Tim Kaine on July 29 in Philadelphia. Matt Slocum / AP

There has never been a more pro-LGBT presidential campaign than Clinton and Kaine ticket. The Democratic Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees have the most comprehensive LGBT platform America has ever seen. A Clinton administration promises to pass the Equality Act, protect transgender rights, and end the pseudo-scientific practice of conversion therapy. It’s the most progressive LGBT platform the United States has ever seen, and it’s being spearheaded by two people of faith.

Clinton, a Methodist, and Kaine, a Catholic, are vocal both about their devout faith and to their commitment to the LGBT community. At the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, Kaine shared his progression from opposing LGBT equality to becoming a supporter of it.

“As a devout Catholic, while I was battling for LGBTQ equality, I believed that marriage was something different,” Kaine said. “I knew gay couples as friends in my neighborhood. I knew them to be great neighbors. I knew them to be great parents to beautiful kids. And I saw them struggle with antiquated and even hostile adoption laws. But I had a difficult time reconciling that reality, what I knew to be true from the evidence of my own life, with the teachings of the faith that I have bene raised in for my entire life.”

The Catholic Church believes that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered.” And while Pope Francis has spout a few nonjudgmental words about the gay community, Francis still holds anti-LGBT beliefs that he isn’t afraid of sharing. The Pope has likened transgender individuals to nuclear weapons and believes that same-sex relationships are sinful. Similarly, the United Methodist Church holds anti-LGBT beliefs. Last summer, the United Methodist Church voted against allowing LGBT people to be included as full church members and against allowing LGBT clergy to be ordained.

While Clinton and Kaine’s support for the LGBT community is clearly at odds with their denominations, it is in perfect harmony with their faith. For Kaine, it is his belief in a Creator that names all of creation “very good” and who believes in celebrating “God’s beautiful diverse family” that led him to call for LGBT equality. In his speech at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner, Kaine even went as far to say during his that the Catholic Church would one day change the position on marriage to include same-sex couples.

Clinton's religious beliefs called her to care for others. In speaking to a group of Baptists, Religion News Service reported, Clinton described her faith as an “activist, social justice faith, a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-your-hands-dirty faith.”

“I am grateful for the gift of personal salvation and for the great obligation of the social gospel to use the gift of grace wisely, to reflect the love of God and to follow the example of Jesus Christ to the greater good of God’s beloved community,” Clinton said. “That’s what led me to devote my life in the ways I could to serving others.”

Throughout her talk, Clinton emphasized scripture and religious teachings that demanded us to love one another and work toward justice. “Do all the good you can for all the people you can in all the ways you can as long as ever you can,” Clinton said repeating a popular Methodist saying.

This progressive faith rooted in social justice creates a stark contrast to the Republican ticket. Donald Trump has used Christianity as a way to court the Evangelical vote, while promoting beliefs that are inherently anti-gospel, and is seen visibly uncomfortable in houses of worship. Gov. Mike Pence, on the other hand, follows a more conventional conservative Christian Republican route using his faith as an excuse to pass anti-LGBT legislation.

But Clinton and Kaine aren’t alone. Progressive Christians point to their beliefs as the reason to proudly claim Black Lives Matter, welcome refugees, aide the poor and sick, and in advocating for full spiritual and legal equality of LGBT people. Still Clinton and Kaine’s support of LGBT equality disrupts a mainstreamed idea that Christianity is inherently anti-LGBT. Mostly because there haven’t been such visible people of faith who are also this vocal about being LGBT allies in a major election.

It is the norm for anti-LGBT politicians to cite their religious beliefs, and then claim religious freedom, to be able to pass legislation that oppresses the LGBT community. For too long conservative Christians have hijacked religious language and have used it to vilify the LGBT community. Clinton and Kaine's staunch support for LGBT rights, while concurrently centered in their faith, presents a new idea to Americans: Christians can be pro LGBT –- not in spite of their faith but because of it.

Eliel Cruz is a bisexual activist and the Executive Director of Faith in America.

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